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West Midlands’ Circular Economy Routemap

A Focused Approach to Circularity


Based on the material flow analysis, stakeholder engagements, place-based mapping exercise and the in-depth review of existing projects and policies, it is clear that there is a strong case for circularity in the West Midlands.

Transitioning to a circular economy is a challenging process. It requires a coordinated set of interventions across a wide-range of sectors, involving various businesses and key stakeholders. To support this economy-wide shift, this routemap has identified five enabling levers: policy and regulation, governance, capacity- building, soft infrastructure and hard infrastructure.

Based on research of typical circular economy enablers, including those identified by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, these five enablers will help build a region-wide eco-system focused on circularity. An implementation plan detailing actions across these five enablers has been provided in Chapter 3. WMCA, as well as its local authority constituent members and key partners (such as Chambers of Commerce and LEPs), have an important role to play in building this enabling foundation through the delivery of these actions.

However, to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, the West Midlands must move away from generic circular economy principles and target its sectors of industrial strength, leveraging its knowledge and expertise as well as scaling up existing projects, research programmes and circular activities.

Therefore, inspired by UK and international best practice, as seen in the Netherlands and Finland, the West Midlands Circular Economy Routemap follows a focused approach by initially targeting three catalyst priority areas: Circular Manufacturing, Circular Construction and Circular Food.

Selection criteria

The three priority areas were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Economic sectors that consume large amounts of resources and/or are large producers of waste.
  • Economic sectors with existing regional circular economy expertise. For example, research and development programmes and/or projects that have already begun and can effectively be scaled up.
  • Economic sectors that allow the West Midlands to build on its industrial strengths and develop a competitive advantage within the circular economy. This in turn can attract talent and resources to the region.
  • Economic sectors attracting major investment where circular economy principles can be applied at scale.
  • Economic sectors where circular economy interventions can contribute to job creation, can deliver social value to local communities, and can contribute to the West Midlands’ decarbonisation agenda (if properly implemented).

For each of priority area, four to five high-value strategic interventions have been proposed in Chapter 4.

The interventions selected are scalable opportunities that align with the region’s growth plan and its industrial strategy, and can attract long-term investment and government funding. For these strategic interventions, WMCA’s role will be to convene experts, encourage collaborative partnerships and facilitate the development of detailed project and funding proposals.

A focused approach
  • The West Midlands' circular economy will support the green industrial revolution
Overarching principles
  • resource optimization
  • enabling foundations
  • inclusive green growth
  • innovation and collaboration
Economy wide enablers
  • policy and regulation
  • governance
  • capacity-building
  • soft infrastructure
  • hard infrastructure
Selected Catalyst priority areas

Circular manufacturing

Process Used

(Baseline analysis and research - policy analysis, high level material flow analysis, place-based mapping exercises, stakeholder engagement)


Strategic interventions
  • Circular battery manufacturing
  • circular strategies for infrastructure
  • regenerative food production
  • industrial symbiosis delivery programme
  • circular building product initiative
  • circular food manufacturing
  • high value fuels from waste
  • zero waste construction hub
  • circular food hub
  • circular manufacturing centre of excellence
  • circular re purposing programme
  • healthy consumption
  • brownfield land reclamation
  • circular nutrient loop
Process used

(route map development, priority areas solution workshop, one on one meetings)


Selected priority areas
Circular manufacturing

The industry and manufacturing sector was chosen as a priority area given the West Midland’s strong manufacturing base and due to existing circular economy expertise and projects within this sector. Most of these projects are in their early stage of development, such as the Repowering Black Country Industrial Hubs or the regional Industrial Symbiosis Programme. These projects need to be nurtured as part of the delivery of this routemap.

Circular Manufacturing in the West Midlands will focus specifically on growing the clean tech sector, particularly to support the decarbonisation of the transport sector. This presents one of the biggest opportunities for the region since the West Midlands is already a leader in vehicle manufacturing and battery technologies, and a £2.5 billion Gigafactory is being planned in Coventry.

Circular construction

The Construction, Demolition and Excavation (CD&E) sector was chosen as a priority area since it is the largest consumer of resources and the biggest producer of waste in the region. The waste generated by this sector represents a lost opportunity as value can be created from construction outputs. The region will also be home to significant new developments, including 220,000 new homes and major infrastructure projects.

Circular Construction in the West Midlands will maximise circular design, capitalise on new material innovations and leverage new delivery models such as Modern Methods of Construction and off-site manufacturing. Opportunities also exist to unlock brownfield sites across the region, to deliver more homes whilst reducing the amount of resources used and building regional supply chains’ resilience.

Circular food

The food and agricultural sector was chosen as a priority area since it is the largest consumer of natural resources in the region, and the wider West Midlands remains an agricultural hub with large agro-businesses and food processors based in the region. The region also has a strong food-based community presence, with numerous groups working on food justice issues. These groups will need to be supported as part of the delivery of this routemap.

Circular Food will see the West Midlands re-design its food system to create new jobs, improve local communities’ health and reduce environmental degradation associated with modern diets and agricultural methods. Adopting circular economy principles could also significantly reduce the amount of food wasted. A system-wide shift within this sector would deliver socio-economic benefits and contribute to the growth of a social economy.